In the near future, costly essentials from textbooks to costumes will be freely passed between students in a community-based space.
After noticing the sheer volume of stuff that students go through during their college years, senior Carmen Rodi decided to create a more sustainable solution for CC. By the end of this semester, the Swap Space will open for students to give and take used items in order to reduce campus waste.
“The fundamental part of it is that it’s student-run and student-led, it shows how we’re able to take action,” Rodi said.
The idea of the Swap Space came up last spring, when Rodi and recently graduated senior Zoe Isabella were brainstorming sustainability initiatives. They based their model on Oberlin College’s Free Store, which was started by students six years ago and has been running successfully since its inception.
“It’s important that we talk about the reasons behind the space, like the sense of being able to share things communally,” Rodi said.
With the help of Emily Wright and the Sustainability Office, Rodi and Isabella secured a location for the store next to the Bike Co-Op near Tutt Library. Last year’s graduates donated enough stuff to get the space started, including such gems as a Justin Beiber cardboard cutout and several couches. Rodi hopes to open the Swap Space by eighth block.
“Now it’s just about the logistics and figuring things out,” Rodi said.
Who will work at the store, how high-demand items like textbooks will be treated, and how it will be organized are as of yet undecided. The idea is that the space would become a community area, with options for murals or workshops created by students. The need for this sort of space is clear.
“In college, you do go through a lot of stuff, moving from different places, and clothing you wear as a freshman is not what you would want to wear at a job interview as a senior,” Rodi said.
This effort will hopefully minimize waste on campus, especially at the end of the year when many students throw away perfectly usable items that they don’t have room to store. One concern is that this could take away business from the Arc, which donates proceeds to individuals with developmental disabilities. However, Rodi explained that excess items may be donated to the Arc or the Community Kitchen, and that even with the CCSGA’s donation program at the end of the year, there are a lot of items that get thrown away.
“It’s good to have multiple outlets for stuff. The Arc has a great purpose and I don’t want to take away from that,” Rodi said.
Once it is up and running, The Swap Space will operate year-round and hopefully be entirely student-run.
“Promoting both this closed-circuit system and student-run initiative—where items are reused instead of disposed of—will reduce waste, save students money and create a communal space for the CC community,” Rodi wrote in the mission statement for the Swap Space.